Some years ago when I worked with two secretaries, Laura and Anne, we discovered together an important lesson in human relationships. Both Laura and Anne were hard workers--really tops in their field, the best at what they did. When it came to their work, they were diligent and efficient and got the job done. But there was often friction in the office.
Sensitive Anne was hurt because of Laura's rather snappy attitude. Laura thought it was all Anne's fault for being too sensitive. Laura was partially right; Anne was sensitive and needed to improve in that area. But when I talked with Laura about the problem, we realized it presented her with a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. Laura was good at her work, she was good on paper, but was she willing to learn to improve her relationships with people? Why had God put her in the position of working with Anne in the first place? Might He be working in Laura's life to help her learn to get along with others better?
We could all stand to improve in our relations with others, and the Bible has lots of helpful counsel for us on that subject--how to work with others, how to treat them, how to be loving towards them, and so on. It talks about patience, longsuffering, love, unselfishness, and giving. In all the passages about these things, the Lord is talking about relationships between human beings, not about our work or the relationships we have with things--our papers or computers or machines. He's talking about people. You may work great with your computer, but you're not going to grow much spiritually unless you learn to have loving interaction with other people--and that's not always easy! It takes patience, love, and humility.
If we're going to grow and mature in spirit, then we've got to grow in love, not just in diligence in our work. The Bible doesn't teach us that diligence is the most important thing; it teaches us that love is the most important thing! "The greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
You may do your work well and accomplish a lot, but if you haven't learned how to work with others and treat them with love, then you're missing one of the main lessons we're here on earth to learn! We need to learn to love people, and to do that we need to also learn that people are different and we can't treat them all the same. The Lord wants us to treat people differently, according to their needs. Jesus was very mindful of people's human weaknesses and didn't require the same from everyone. The apostle Paul also instructed, "Uphold the weak, be patient with all" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
What is the most important ingredient in our relations with each other? What did Jesus say proves we are His disciples?--Love! "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). How can you love God whom you can't see, if you can't love the people you live and work with all the time? How can you say you love people whom you haven't seen, if you don't love your brother or sister whom you see every day? (1 John 4:20). It's clear that as Christians, we are really erring if we don't love each other.
Laura was an excellent worker, but even if she were perfect, even if she spent 18 hours a day on the job without making one mistake, she'd still not be pleasing God if she did not show a loving attitude toward the people she worked with.
In our office there was obviously a problem between Laura and Anne, and resolving it was part of their job. It wasn't easy, because one of the hardest things to learn is how to work with other people. That's a lot harder to learn than how to operate a machine that doesn't talk back! It's a lot harder to get along with people and handle them lovingly and get them to love you--but Laura learned and we can too!
"Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9). Well, the answer is obvious. Of course we are our brother's keeper, and we need to remember that some people need to be "kept" even more lovingly and tenderly than others. To be successful with people, you have to learn that people are different and need to be treated differently.
The Lord put certain people in your life--relatives, coworkers, superiors, clients, or neighbors--whether you like it or not. Whether you like to be with these people or not, He has placed you with them and it's your responsibility to love them. If you can't get along with them, He evidently knew you needed to learn to or He wouldn't have put you together. It must be possible, or He wouldn't have put you in that situation.
We don't grow or learn unless we have a challenge, so look at this as a new challenge in life. "What can I do to grow in my relationships with other people?" That's the whole purpose for living, to love God and others. That's the most important thing! And if you love God, you'll love others, too, because loving others is one way you show love to the Lord.
You can read the Bible all you want, but if you don't live it in love, it doesn't do any good. You can make all kinds of other sacrifices, but without love it is nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). You can be the tops in your field, but if you don't manifest God's love to others, then it's all in vain. If you don't have love, you don't have anything! Love is the most important thing!